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The Kings of Big Spring

The Kings of Big Spring

Author: Bryan Mealer
Publisher: Flatiron Books
ISBN: 1250058937
Pages: 384
Year: 2018-02-06
"Think of it as a Texas version of Hillbilly Elegy." — Bryan Burrough, New York Times bestselling author of THE BIG RICH and BARBARIANS AT THE GATE "Bryan Mealer has given us a brilliant, and brilliantly entertaining, portrayal of family, and a bursting-at-the-seams chunk of America in the bargain.” — Ben Fountain, bestselling author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk A saga of family, fortune, faith in Texas, where blood is bond and oil is king... In 1892, Bryan Mealer’s great-grandfather leaves the Georgia mountains and heads west into Texas, looking for wealth and adventure in the raw and open country. But his luck soon runs out. Beset by drought, the family loses their farm just as the dead pastures around them give way to one of the biggest oil booms in American history. They eventually settle in the small town of Big Spring, where fast fortunes are being made from its own reserves of oil. For the next two generations, the Mealers live on the margins of poverty, laboring in the cotton fields and on the drilling rigs that sprout along the flatland, weathering dust and wind, booms and busts, and tragedies that scatter them like tumbleweed. After embracing Pentecostalism during the Great Depression, they rely heavily on their faith to steel them against hardship and despair. But for young Bobby Mealer, the author’s father, religion is only an agent for rebellion. In the winter of 1981, when the author is seven years old, Bobby receives a call from an old friend with a simple question, “How'd you like to be a millionaire?” Twenty-six, and with a wife and three kids, Bobby had left his hometown to seek a life removed from the blowing dust and oil fields, and to find spiritual peace. But now Big Spring’s streets are flooded again with roughnecks, money, and sin. Boom chasers pour in from the busted factory towns in the north. Drilling rigs rise like timber along the pastures, and poor men become millionaires overnight. Grady Cunningham, Bobby's friend, is one of the newly-minted kings of Big Spring. Loud and flamboyant, with a penchant for floor-length fur coats, Grady pulls Bobby and his young wife into his glamorous orbit. While drilling wells for Grady's oil company, they fly around on private jets and embrace the honky-tonk high life of Texas oilmen. But beneath the Rolexes and Rolls Royce cars is a reality as dark as the crude itself. As Bobby soon discovers, his return to Big Spring is a backslider’s journey into a spiritual wilderness, and one that could cost him his life. A masterwork of memoir and narrative history, The Kings of Big Spring is an indelible portrait of fortune and ruin as big as Texas itself. And in telling the story of four generations of his family, Mealer also tells the story of America came to be.
The Kings of Big Spring

The Kings of Big Spring

Author: Bryan Mealer
Publisher:
ISBN: 1250058910
Pages: 384
Year: 2018-02-06
"Think of it as a Texas version of Hillbilly Elegy." — Bryan Burrough, New York Times bestselling author of THE BIG RICH and BARBARIANS AT THE GATE "Bryan Mealer has given us a brilliant, and brilliantly entertaining, portrayal of family, and a bursting-at-the-seams chunk of America in the bargain.” — Ben Fountain, bestselling author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk A saga of family, fortune, faith in Texas, where blood is bond and oil is king... In 1892, Bryan Mealer’s great-grandfather leaves the Georgia mountains and heads west into Texas, looking for wealth and adventure in the raw and open country. But his luck soon runs out. Beset by drought, the family loses their farm just as the dead pastures around them give way to one of the biggest oil booms in American history. They eventually settle in the small town of Big Spring, where fast fortunes are being made from its own reserves of oil. For the next two generations, the Mealers live on the margins of poverty, laboring in the cotton fields and on the drilling rigs that sprout along the flatland, weathering dust and wind, booms and busts, and tragedies that scatter them like tumbleweed. After embracing Pentecostalism during the Great Depression, they rely heavily on their faith to steel them against hardship and despair. But for young Bobby Mealer, the author’s father, religion is only an agent for rebellion. In the winter of 1981, when the author is seven years old, Bobby receives a call from an old friend with a simple question, “How'd you like to be a millionaire?” Twenty-six, and with a wife and three kids, Bobby had left his hometown to seek a life removed from the blowing dust and oil fields, and to find spiritual peace. But now Big Spring’s streets are flooded again with roughnecks, money, and sin. Boom chasers pour in from the busted factory towns in the north. Drilling rigs rise like timber along the pastures, and poor men become millionaires overnight. Grady Cunningham, Bobby's friend, is one of the newly-minted kings of Big Spring. Loud and flamboyant, with a penchant for floor-length fur coats, Grady pulls Bobby and his young wife into his glamorous orbit. While drilling wells for Grady's oil company, they fly around on private jets and embrace the honky-tonk high life of Texas oilmen. But beneath the Rolexes and Rolls Royce cars is a reality as dark as the crude itself. As Bobby soon discovers, his return to Big Spring is a backslider’s journey into a spiritual wilderness, and one that could cost him his life. A masterwork of memoir and narrative history, The Kings of Big Spring is an indelible portrait of fortune and ruin as big as Texas itself. And in telling the story of four generations of his family, Mealer also tells the story of America came to be.
The Kings of Big Spring

The Kings of Big Spring

Author: Bryan Mealer
Publisher: Flatiron Books
ISBN: 1250058929
Pages: 384
Year: 2019-02-05

Muck City

Muck City

Author: Bryan Mealer
Publisher: Three Rivers Press (CA)
ISBN: 0307888630
Pages: 344
Year: 2013-08-13
Traces the intertwined stories of an orphaned quarterback, a celebrated football coach and an aspiring medical student whose prospects were collectively shaped by the formidable challenges, shameful history and football enthusiasm of their hometown in the Florida Everglades. 30,000 first printing.
The Big Rich

The Big Rich

Author: Bryan Burrough
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 0143116827
Pages: 480
Year: 2010
Recounts how Texas oil transformed wealth and power in America through the stories of the state's four most influential oil families, tracing how they rose from modest backgrounds, shaped the government, and bankrolled the rise of modern conservatism.
Texas Blood

Texas Blood

Author: Roger D. Hodge
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 0307961419
Pages: 368
Year: 2017-10-10
In the tradition of Ian Frazier's Great Plains, and as vivid as the work of Cormac McCarthy, an intoxicating, singularly illuminating history of the Texas borderlands from their settlement through seven generations of Roger D. Hodge's ranching family. What brought the author's family to Texas? What is it about Texas that for centuries has exerted a powerful allure for adventurers and scoundrels, dreamers and desperate souls, outlaws and outliers? In search of answers, Hodge travels across his home state--which he loves and hates in shifting measure--tracing the wanderings of his ancestors into forgotten histories along vanished roads. Here is an unsentimental, keenly insightful attempt to grapple with all that makes Texas so magical, punishing, and polarizing. Here is a spellbindingly evocative portrait of the borderlands--with its brutal history of colonization, conquest, and genocide; where stories of death and drugs and desperation play out daily. And here is a contemplation of what it means that the ranching industry that has sustained families like Hodge's for almost two centuries is quickly fading away, taking with it a part of our larger, deep-rooted cultural inheritance. A wholly original fusion of memoir and history--as piercing as it is elegiac--Texas Blood is a triumph.
No Barriers

No Barriers

Author: Erik Weihenmayer, Buddy Levy
Publisher: Macmillan
ISBN: 1250088801
Pages: 432
Year: 2017-02-07
National Bestseller and Honorable Mention Award Winner in the Outdoor Literature category of the 2017 National Outdoor Book Awards (NOBA) — “A beautiful book about family and finding a way to achieve more than you ever thought possible.” —Brad Meltzer, NYT bestselling author Erik Weihenmayer is the first and only blind person to summit Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth. Descending carefully, he and his team picked their way across deep crevasses and through the deadly Khumbu Icefall; when the mountain was finally behind him, Erik knew he was going to live. His expedition leader slapped him on the back and said something that would affect the course of Erik’s life: “Don’t make Everest the greatest thing you ever do.” No Barriers is Erik’s response to that challenge. It is the moving story of his journey since descending Mount Everest: from leading expeditions around the world with blind Tibetan teenagers to helping injured soldiers climb their way home from war, from adopting a son from Nepal to facing the most terrifying reach of his life: to solo kayak the thunderous whitewater of the Grand Canyon. Along the course of Erik’s journey, he meets other trailblazers—adventurers, scientists, artists, and activists—who, despite trauma, hardship, and loss, have broken through barriers of their own. These pioneers show Erik surprising ways forward that surpass logic and defy traditional thinking. Like the rapids of the Grand Canyon, created by inexorable forces far beneath the surface, No Barriers is a dive into the heart and mind at the core of the turbulent human experience. It is an exploration of the light that burns in all of us, the obstacles that threaten to extinguish that light, and the treacherous ascent towards growth and rebirth.
The Last Sheriff in Texas

The Last Sheriff in Texas

Author: James P. McCollom
Publisher: Counterpoint Press
ISBN: 1619029979
Pages: 260
Year: 2017-11-01
An Amazon Best History Book of the Month "[A] narrative with resonance well beyond seekers of Texas history. The Last Sheriff in Texas would be an amazing allegory for our times, were it fiction. Instead it suggests cultural trenches that we view as new that were dug decades ago." —Houston Chronicle Beeville, Texas, was the most American of small towns—the place that GIs had fantasized about while fighting through the ruins of Europe, a place of good schools, clean streets, and churches. Old West justice ruled, as evidenced by a 1947 shootout when outlaws surprised popular sheriff Vail Ennis at a gas station and shot him five times, point-blank, in the belly. Ennis managed to draw his gun and put three bullets in each assailant; he reloaded and shot them three times more. Time magazine’s full-page article on the shooting was seen by some as a referendum on law enforcement owing to the sheriff’s extreme violence, but supportive telegrams from all across America poured into Beeville’s tiny post office. Yet when a second violent incident threw Ennis into the crosshairs of public opinion once again, the uprising was orchestrated by an unlikely figure: his close friend and Beeville’s favorite son, Johnny Barnhart. Barnhart confronted Ennis in the election of 1952: a landmark standoff between old Texas, with its culture of cowboy bravery and violence, and urban Texas, with its lawyers, oil institutions, and a growing Mexican population. The town would never be the same again. The Last Sheriff in Texas is a riveting narrative about the postwar American landscape, an era grappling with the same issues we continue to face today. Debate over excessive force in law enforcement, Anglo-Mexican relations, gun control, the influence of the media, urban-rural conflict, the power of the oil industry, mistrust of politicians and the political process—all have surprising historical precedence in the story of Vail Ennis and Johnny Barnhart.
Goodbye, Vitamin

Goodbye, Vitamin

Author: Rachel Khong
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
ISBN: 1250109159
Pages: 208
Year: 2017-07-11
Named a Best Book of the Year by NPR, O, The Oprah Magazine, Vogue, San Francisco Chronicle, Esquire, Huffington Post, Nylon, Entertainment Weekly, Buzzfeed, Booklist, and The Independent Winner of the California Book Award for First Fiction Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist for First Fiction "A quietly brilliant disquisition . . . told in prose that is so startling in its spare beauty that I found myself thinking about Khong's turns of phrase for days after I finished reading."—Doree Shafrir, The New York Times Book Review "One of those rare books that is both devastating and light-hearted, heartful and joyful. . . . Don't miss it."—Buzzfeed "Hello, Rachel Khong. Kudos for this delectable take on familial devotion and dementia."—NPR Her life at a crossroads, a young woman goes home again in this funny and inescapably moving debut from a wonderfully original new literary voice. Freshly disengaged from her fiancé and feeling that life has not turned out quite the way she planned, thirty-year-old Ruth quits her job, leaves town and arrives at her parents’ home to find that situation more complicated than she'd realized. Her father, a prominent history professor, is losing his memory and is only erratically lucid. Ruth’s mother, meanwhile, is lucidly erratic. But as Ruth's father’s condition intensifies, the comedy in her situation takes hold, gently transforming her all her grief. Told in captivating glimpses and drawn from a deep well of insight, humor, and unexpected tenderness, Goodbye, Vitamin pilots through the loss, love, and absurdity of finding one’s footing in this life.
The Iron Orchard

The Iron Orchard

Author: Tom Pendleton
Publisher: New York : Avon Books
ISBN: 0722167741
Pages: 348
Year: 1968

All Things Must Fight to Live

All Things Must Fight to Live

Author: Bryan Mealer
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing USA
ISBN: 1608196674
Pages: 320
Year: 2011-01-08
In All Things Must Fight to Live, Bryan Mealer takes readers on a harrowing two-thousand mile journey through Congo, where gun-toting militia still rape and kill with impunity. Amidst burnt-out battlefields where armies still wrestle for control, into the dark corners of the forests, and along the high savanna, where thousands have been slaughtered and quickly forgotten, Mealer searches for signs that Africa's most troubled state will soon rise from ruin. At once illuminating and startling, All Things Must Fight to Live is a searing portrait of an emerging country facing unimaginable upheaval and almost impossible odds, as well as an unflinching look at the darkness that continues to exist in the hearts of men. It is non-fiction at its finest-powerful, moving, necessary.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Author: William Kamkwamba, Bryan Mealer
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 006193769X
Pages: 320
Year: 2009-09-29
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is the immensely engaging and inspiring true account of an enterprising African teenager who constructed a windmill from scraps to create electricity for his entire community. William Kamkwamba shares the remarkable story of his youth in Malawi, Africa—a nation crippled by intense poverty, famine, and the AIDS plague—and how, with tenacity and imagination, he built a better life for himself, his family, and his village. The poignant and uplifting story of Kamkwamba’s inspiration and personal triumph, co-written with Bryan Mealer, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind has already won ringing praise from former Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore as well as Paolo Coelho, internationally bestselling author of The Alchemist.
The New Wild West

The New Wild West

Author: Blaire Briody
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 1466871520
Pages: 384
Year: 2017-09-26
Williston, North Dakota was a sleepy farm town for generations—until the frackers arrived. The oil companies moved into Williston, overtaking the town and setting off a boom that America hadn’t seen since the Gold Rush. Workers from all over the country descended, chasing jobs that promised them six-figure salaries and demanded no prior experience. But for every person chasing the American dream, there is a darker side—reports of violence and sexual assault skyrocketed, schools overflowed, and housing prices soared. Real estate is such a hot commodity that tent cities popped up, and many workers’ only option was to live out of their cars. Farmers whose families had tended the land for generations watched, powerless, as their fields were bulldozed to make way for one oil rig after another. Using a mix of first-person adventure and cultural analysis, Blaire Briody's The New Wild West is the definitive account of what’s happening on the ground and what really happens to a community when the energy industry is allowed to set up in a town with little regulation or oversight—and at what cost.
Great American Outpost

Great American Outpost

Author: Maya Rao
Publisher: PublicAffairs
ISBN: 1610396472
Pages: 336
Year: 2018-04-24
A surreal, lyrical work of narrative nonfiction that portrays how the largest domestic oil discovery in half a century transformed a forgotten corner of the American West into a crucible of breakneck capitalism. As North Dakota became the nation's second-largest oil producer, Maya Rao set out in steel-toe boots to join a wave of drifters, dreamers, entrepreneurs, and criminals. With an eye for the dark, absurd, and humorous, Rao fearlessly immersed herself in their world to chronicle this modern-day gold rush, from its heady beginnings to OPEC's price war against the US oil industry. She rode shotgun with a surfer-turned-truck driver braving toxic fumes and dangerous roads, dined with businessmen disgraced during the financial crisis, and reported on everyone in between--including an ex-con YouTube celebrity, a trophy wife mired in scandal, and a hard-drinking British Ponzi schemer--in a social scene so rife with intrigue that one investor called the oilfield Peyton Place on steroids. As the boom receded, a culture of greed and recklessness left troubling consequences for investors and longtime residents. Empty trailers and idle oil equipment littered the fields like abandoned farmsteads, leaving the pioneers who built this unlikely civilization to reckon with their legacy. Part Barbara Ehrenreich, part Upton Sinclair, Great American Outpost is a sobering exploration of twenty-first-century America that reads like a frontier novel.
This Is the Rope

This Is the Rope

Author: Jacqueline Woodson
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 0425288943
Pages: 32
Year: 2017-07-21
A rope passed down through the generations frames an African-American family's story as they journey north to New York City from the rural south during the time of the Great Migration. Full color.